The first review for the Spanish translation of Escape Claws is out on Athnecdotario Incoherente, the blog of Athman M. Charles. The review is by Soraya Murillo—a wonderful interviewer, reviewer and friend. The review is also in Spanish.
I have permission to translate this review and repost it in English here. You can find the original posting, in Spanish, here.
Review of Escape Claws, by Angela Yuriko Smith
Posted on August 26, 2018 by Athman
Written by Soraya Murillo
It is always difficult when it comes to reviewing or commenting on the text of a writer friend. In a certain way you became a friend of his or hers through their works. Then you are writing to tell them to say that you admired and liked what you read about them.
With Angela I do not have to convince you that I read a good book. I do not show you a novel, nor a continuous story. This book begins with a foreword by the author’s therapist, telling us what it is about. Then we will continue with that of Angela Yuriko Smith herself. In this book, each small narrative of the events is accompanied by poems related to them, mixing the real and the figurative, making us imagine what her own childhood was.
I would like to know if when an author writes, she really feels what he is writing. I do not know, writing is not a job in itself. The stories are already there, floating in a place they can not see. The writer sits in front of the processor, the fingers touch the keys and I think that at that moment they cease to exist as people. The words simply appear to take on a life of their own. History is independent of them.
It would be her grandmother who would tell her that the women, because of that curse, were predestined to see what for the rest of the mortals continues hidden. Exposing with great lucidity what remained in the deep abysses of a girl’s loneliness.
What is covered by the entities that persecuted her? I do not know, each one will draw conclusions from his own reading experience. She extracts what makes her suffer, sharing it with everyone so that those who suffer or suffer also know that they are not alone and that there is a solution.
It is a hard story, as well as terrifying, because it is told by a girl who lived between screams and great silences, almost in total abandonment by her parents, along with a gift that she believed to have tormented her in an inhuman way.
At the beginning of the book, she makes it clear that she doubts many things; she herself does not remember where she started seeing things unseen, leaving gaps that were difficult to fill. Each house in which she lived seems special, as if those houses attracted her family or the family were the ones that made them different. It should not be easy to look at the night sky from a room where you fear the monster that will surely return another night. You have to be very brave to look for the stars that shine, hoping to find some peace in your thoughts.
Written with a sensitivity to the surface, as our author felt, trying to convey the horror and hope. Undoubtedly the best of all are the poems, which carry the flavor of the Japanese haiku that continues to flow in her blood.
From the beginning
I struggled to climb
with bloody fingers
while they were digging in the rocks
hindered by more than pain,
groping for a handle.
I wanted to have claws to escape.
I achieved it with only what I had …
Personally I was struck by this verse, which in itself says it all. We put up photographs, moments of our childhood in which we were happy; but there is a reality: many people were not and I would not want for anything in the world to relive those moments.
Here we have one of those stories, an escape, an escape to a better life. It’s not easy, I know, that’s why I admire this little book of no more than sixty pages. She once told me: Thanks to my mother I knew how to be a good mother … that’s why we escape, to leave and learn from the mistakes.
I’m sure you will like this story, her poems and her courage. Angela wants you to open the doors wide, without fear. So she crossed to the other side and there she waits for you to understand that you must live another life: yours.
Impossible presences, basements that burst open doors, small memories belonging to deceased people, houses that seem alive and a girl who was afraid to scream…